Emirates said it is ramping up efforts to process refunds after amassing a backlog of more than 500,000 refund requests due to flight cancellations over the Covid-19 crisis.

The Dubai-based carrier said it will use cash reserves to refund its passengers. The carrier would normally process an average of 35,000 refund requests in a month pre-pandemic, but now it is gearing up to handle 150,000 requests per month and aims to clear the current backlog by “early August”.

“It is a difficult time for us, as it is for all airlines. We are dipping into our cash reserves by being proactive in processing refunds, but it is our duty and responsibility. We would like to assure our customers and trade partners that we will honour refunds, and that we are doing our best to speed things up,” said Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline in a statement posted on the airline’s website.

“The situation was dynamic in the early weeks of the pandemic, but we have since re-written our Covid-19 waiver policy into a simple, globally-applied approach that puts customers first. We’ve also proactively contacted those of our customers who had submitted earlier requests for refunds or booking changes, to let them know of the new options available to them,” he added.

The airline said customers who wish to request travel vouchers or refunds can do so through an online form on Emirates’ website, or contact their travel booking agent for assistance.

Emirates says it offers the following three options to its customers affected by flight cancellations and travel restrictions:

  • Customers can keep their existing ticket for up to 24 months, and call to reschedule their flight when they are ready to fly. This option applies to any ticket booked on or before 30 June 2020, for travel on or before 30 November 2020.
  • Passengers can exchange the unused portion of their tickets for a travel voucher equivalent to the amount paid for their original booking. The travel voucher can be used for “any Emirates product or service with no change fees”.
  • Passengers can also opt for a refunds. Emirates said customers who have opted to keep their ticket or opted for a travel voucher can still apply for a refund, if they are unable to travel. There will be no refund penalties, the carrier said.

Customers who have booked through travel agents should contact their agent for assistance, Emirates said.

While Emirates has suspended most of its international flights, the airline is operating some repatriation flights from Dubai to several destinations this month including flights to Frankfurt, Jakarta, Johannesburg  Lagos, London Heathrow, Madrid, Manila, and Tunis to help overseas nationals return home.